It is an indisputable fact that Slovakia is still very much unknown among most people on this green earth. Too often I need to correct people’s knowledge about this country and tell them that what they think they know is completely wrong. To make everyone’s life easier, I compiled a list of 8 things you need to know about Slovakia, which will make you for sure the first person to be chosen for the next pub-quiz team.
Recently I was asked what Bratislava should improve to sell itself better to the outside world as a great holiday or city-trip destination. I did not have to think hard about that, because the one thing it must improve is something we, both tourists and locals alike, need to deal with every single day - crappy customer service.
On my way to work this morning, I noticed a new burger restaurant being constructed. As a self-professed burger enthousiast, my first reaction was one of sheer happiness. My most favourite burger place, Roxor, recently moved from just around the corner of my work to a few blocks away, so I was positively surprised to see a new restaurant open up close by. This feeling of joy, however, quickly gave way to the thought: “Really? Another burger restaurant in Bratislava?”
As a foreigner living in Slovakia, how much should I actually care about what is going on in this country, whether it is a political crisis as seen in the last months or something altogether different? Do I bare any responsibility for the future of this country, or is this rather a fight reserved for Slovaks alone?
I have visited good friends in Bratislava for a number of years, always learning more and deepening my understanding of Slovaks and their country. My feeling for Slovakia grew out of friendship and carried its quality of pleasure and connection So it was a shock when I read about the deaths of Ján Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kušnírová.
Most of you know by now that I absolutely enjoy living in Slovakia and that I found my home here. However, there has been one major dirty spot on this country’s beauty that I have refrained from writing about, so far – any foreigner’s absolutely involuntary dealing with the so-called “Foreign Police”.
Being born Dutch means being born to ride. Some may say we are born with a bike in our hands. We bike a lot, it’s a simple truth. We learn how to ride a bike from an early age. Our level of self-confidence, self-conscienceness and, to some degree, plain arrogance rises the moment we get on that bicycle. We know how to ride on one wheel, how to ride with five bags of groceries and a crate of beer, with three kids (one on the back, two on the front), without hands, during storms, and hand-in-hand with your loved one (riding a bike right next to you).
When you live in a different country for a couple of years, you unavoidably will adopt certain local habits and cultural aspects. I cheer for the Slovak national ice hockey team, I love the national dish “bryndzové halušky so slaninkou”, and I automatically take my shoes off when I enter someone else’s home. However, there is one thing I have a very hard time adopting, which always brings up one simple question in me: “What is your problem with zebra crossings?!”